My goodness, OB-GYN can be quite exhausting! Dealing with pregnant women and all the hormones and all the blood can take its toll on you, so behold the extreme tardiness of this particular review. Anyhow, amidst studying all them obstetrical and gynecologic concepts, I took well-deserved breaks by joining Ava on her one-of-a-kind adventure in Carla de Guzman’s Midnights to Bali.
Spoiler haters, be warned! I cannot – rather, I never – promise a spoiler-free review. 🙂
Ava Bonifacio is the girl with The Plan. She’s Little Miss Perfect, the future lawyer, who has always been accustomed to having things her way. But when she fails to get into the top law school in the country and gets dumped by her boyfriend, her entire world might as well have turned upside down. So in such an uncharacteristic act of spontaneity, Ava books herself a trip to Bali, wanting a chance to escape and to forget. It is in Bali that she meets Scott McLeod, an arrogant Scottish traveler, who forces her to take a step out of her comfort zone. In Bali, Ava and Scott get not just an incredible adventure but also a shot at finding love.
The best thing about this book would have to be the setting. I loved how Carla de Guzman captured the wonder of Bali in the story. The detailed descriptions really provided for a vivid picture of the place in my head. As Scott and Ava went through their little tour with their guide, Wayan, I felt like I was in the tour with them. From the architectural wonder that is the Puseh Desa Batuan to the “eggs” in Sukawati district to the flavors of bebek and Bintang, Midnights in Bali treats the reader to a great cultural experience packaged as a blossoming love story of an unlikely couple.
As far as main characters go, Ava and Scott are pretty okay. Nothing particularly striking about the two of them. Ava came across as your typical reserved and stiff perfectionist who has to learn to take a chance on life. On the other hand, Scott belongs mainly to the bad boy trope of leading men, while also having that foreigner and ‘mysterious guy with a secret’ thing going on for him.
I had a feeling the book was going to go towards becoming a sort of “sick-lit” (it was either that or guy was just so apprehensive to commitment) when Scott started going “I wasn’t supposed to do this” and “I can’t give you what you’re looking for”. The detail of Scott’s sickness worked okay as a literary device in the story and did provide an okay explanation to why he was essentially still distant despite his obvious growing connection with Ava. And while I’m glad it didn’t turn all dramatic with stuff about death and dying, some part of me also wished the explanation hadn’t been that convenient.
Further ranting / Medicine trivia: This is just the doctor side in me ranting and you can very well choose to skip this part of my review. Of all the cancers, choosing breast cancer was a peculiar choice! For one thing, it’s a very rare disease in men, and because of its rarity, it’s pretty hard to spot early in the disease process (Why? Because doctors don’t usually screen for it, given that it doesn’t occur often). That said, breast cancer in men is usually detected at a late stage already, making the prognosis pretty bad. Scott’s somewhere in his late twenties, a bit young since the mean incidence of breast cancer in men is somewhere in the 60’s, so that would give him an even worse prognosis. He’s already undergone mastectomy (surgical removal of the breast) and chemotherapy, but despite being cancer-free for a year now, I’d say he’s not yet totally in the clear. Because, the risk of involvement of the contralateral breast is actually the highest in men younger than 50 years of age at the time of initial diagnosis. So yeah, Scott would still need at least yearly screening and follow-up. 😦
Medicine nitty-gritty details and story convenience aside, Midnights in Bali is still an enjoyable read. Go ahead and give it a chance. Like Ava, you might find a great adventure waiting for you in the pages of this book.
DOCTOR’S ORDERS: pick this one up if you’re into fun and light romances; people wondering where broken hearts go and whether there will ever be hope for a new love might relate to Ava’s struggle and desire for escape
Watch out for: some steamy bits, a possibility to get caught up in the wonders of Bali (will probably make you want to travel there), and the Scottish vacuum of charm